Bangkok (VNA) – Thailand’s Ministry of Sports and Tourism is considering the possibility of imposing a tourist levy to use for improving local attractions and insurance coverage for foreign visitors.
The ministry floated the initiative after the National Tourism Policy Act was enacted and published in the Royal Gazette.
Permanent Secretary for Tourism Chote Trachu said that the ministry is in talks with Naresuan University and the Office of Insurance Commission to further study the potential tourism tax and will be careful in finding a solution with minimal impact on the country’s tourism.
The study is likely to take six months to complete, he said, adding that it will attempt to determine an appropriate fee and where to collect the sum.
The study will also include the environmental impact of excessive visitors on popular tourism destinations and whether a limit in the number of visitors at some venues is possible in order to promote sustainable tourism in the long run.
He said the tourism levy will not only prevent tourists from unpredictable situations and raise their confidence, but also reduce medical expenses for the state. But the priority of the levy is to rehabilitate tourism sites across the country. Part of the funds will also be used to improve infrastructure to facilitate tourists.
Tourism has been an economic driver for Thailand over the past decade. Last year the country welcomed over 38 million arrivals, contributing more than 2 trillion THB of income. Combined with domestic travel, tourism receipts totalled 3 trillion THB in 2018.
This year the ministry expects 41 million arrivals, generating 2.2 trillion THB.
Chote said Thailand is responsible for some 300 million THB in tourist medical expenses every year.
Several countries have put in place a tourism levy, aiming to use the funds to improve local destinations.
Earlier this year, Japan imposed a 1,000 JPY (9.17 USD) “sayonara” levy, while Malaysia recently started charging a departure tax of 5 USD for tourists from ASEAN countries and 10 USD for international tourists.–VNA